Spain’s women’s soccer team made headlines with their World Cup victory, but their journey to success has been far from easy. They’ve been on a relentless quest for equality within their sport, challenging the outdated norms of the soccer federation. Let’s delve into their inspirational story of perseverance.
Turns out winning the World Cup was the easiest thing the Spanish women’s team did this summer. Dragging the country’s misogynistic, neanderthal soccer federation into the 21st century has proved to be much more difficult.
A Players’ Boycott Sparks Change
Yet they might finally be on their way to making that happen after a players’ boycott of the national team led to the sacking of Andreu Camps, the federation’s general secretary, and a complete overhaul of the organization.
The fact that their World Cup title had to be followed by a fight for equality is more proof that simply winning isn’t enough for women athletes.
With the top-ranked U.S. reeling after its worst World Cup performance ever, Spain should be ascending to the throne the Americans have vacated. Instead, the players are having to fight their own bosses for their dignity as women and professional athletes, the glory of their World Cup victory stolen.
The moment has become a turning point. “We want to play in decent conditions and in which we are respected,” defender Irene Paredes said. “Up to now, it’s been impossible. We are tired, and we can’t yet see the light at the end of the tunnel. This is grueling. [But] we know we have a megaphone right now.”
Fighting for Respect and Equality
Unlike their male counterparts, women have had to turn their victory podiums into soapboxes from which to demand respect, equality, and support — sometimes while fighting off sexual assault during the awards ceremony. That’s not a responsibility for which the women signed up, but it’s one most have accepted along with their medals.
The American women needed three decades and a relay team of powerful athlete-activists that ran from Julie Foudy through Abby Wambach to Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe to win pay equity. Yet without their success in winning four World Cups and four Olympic gold medals, would people have sat up and listened to their demands?
Now other countries are picking up that baton. Spain, which didn’t win its first women’s World Cup game until 2019 and didn’t have a fully professional women’s league until 2021, is now arguably at the center of the women’s soccer universe.
In addition to the unparalleled success of its national teams — it is the first country to hold all three women’s World Cup titles at the same time — Barcelona’s club team has won two of the last three Champions League finals, losing just two league games in the last four seasons.
After the championship game in Sydney, Luis Rubiales, president of the Spanish federation, charged the pitch and lifted forward Athenea del Castillo over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes. Then during the trophy presentation, he put his hands on both sides of Jenni Hermoso’s head, pulled her close, and kissed her on the mouth without her consent, images that were broadcast live on global TV.
What Rubiales and his defenders in the federation saw as an enthusiastic reaction to the victory others saw as sexual assault. It wasn’t the first time — or second or third time — that Rubiales has been accused of inappropriate behavior with women.
Less than a week later, after Vilda was reportedly offered a new contract and Rubiales defiantly refused demands to resign, 81 women in the national team pool — along with two men’s national team players — said they would not play for Spain if Rubiales remained in charge. When Vilda’s entire coaching staff also resigned in protest, the manager’s position became untenable, and he was fired in early September. Five days later, Rubiales resigned.
The Spanish federation thought they could weather the storm. The players proved otherwise.
Spain’s women’s soccer team isn’t backing down in its fight for equality and respect. Their journey from World Cup champions to advocates for change is a testament to their determination and the global movement for women’s soccer rights. As they continue to push for progress, they inspire not only fellow athletes but also the world to stand up for what is right and just.
Remember, it’s not just about winning on the field; it’s about winning off the field too.
Women’s Soccer Rights: A Global Movement
Why are Spain’s women soccer players fighting’systematic discrimination’?
Spain’s women soccer players, speaking from Gothenburg, Sweden on September 21, have articulated that their ongoing battle with the country’s football federation (RFEF) is a response to what they perceive as decades of systematic discrimination. They firmly believe that their struggle can serve as a beacon of inspiration for others facing similar challenges within their respective domains. With this fight, they aim to catalyze a broader movement that encourages individuals to assert their rights and demand equal treatment.
Are 15 women soccer players renouncing to play for the Spanish national team?
NPR’s Juana Summers recently interviewed Barcelona-based reporter Alan Ruiz-Terol regarding a significant development: the decision of 15 women soccer players to renounce playing for the Spanish national team. This move has sent shockwaves through the Spanish soccer community, prompting a response from Jorge Vilda, the coach of the national women’s soccer team, as he attempts to address the crisis gripping his organization.
Why is Spain in the Women’s World Cup Final?
Spain’s remarkable journey to the Women’s World Cup final might be astonishing to those familiar with the team’s turbulent recent past. To understand how Spain reached this pinnacle, let’s delve into a timeline of the key events that have shaped their inspiring World Cup run. For an in-depth perspective on their journey, Candace Buckner’s article, With a messy past and murky future, Spain charges into World Cup final, provides valuable insights.
Why did Spain’s women’s national team end a boycott?
In a significant development, the majority of Spain’s World Cup-winning players decided to end their boycott of the women’s national team. This decision came to fruition on Wednesday following government intervention, which played a pivotal role in shaping an agreement aimed at instigating immediate structural reforms within the country’s soccer federation. The move signifies a pivotal moment in Spain’s women’s soccer, as they strive for positive changes and equitable treatment.